I often question why farmers are pitted against each other at a time when farming is harder than ever. I have had many try to coax me into being competitors and not allies with others that work the land. More importantly, the question remains why do farmers fall victim to it?
Let me explain my upbringing, and that may clarify my confusion. I remember a B&W photo of my Grandpa on a tractor. He was one of many tired, but glowing faces at the end of a long line of tractors, and at the tail end of a long harvest day. One of the farmer’s in the area had suffered an injury at a critical time of the year. Without being asked by the injured farmer, or his family, a small convoy of tractors made their way to the field one Saturday at dawn. It was community in it’s purest sense.
From what I hear, that was pretty common. The take away was a photo, maybe some sandwiches shared under a shade tree, and the comfort in knowing that you were in it together. It is just what people did, and it is what people can still do.
Political leaders, and some farmers in Hawaii, and beyond have tried to dismiss that kind of sediment, noting that romanticizing farming isn’t the way to go. But what if you are not romanticizing, but simply farming with the integrity that used to be common. To me, not having concern for your fellow farmers isn’t “real farming” rather than the opposite. Where did our ethics go? When did greed outshine being a neighbor? I ask us all to look inside ourselves and see if we are being a neighbor in a true sense.